BUILT OF COQUINA.
The fort is built of coquina (a shell rock of natural formation) , which
was obtained from quarries two miles below the present light house, on
what is known as the old quarry road. A visit to these quarries will
richly repay the visitor. The blocks of cut stone were transported down
Quarry Creek and across the bay on rafts and carried to their present
position with cross-bars. Not-withstanding the fact that most of the work
was done by slaves, we are told that such a large sum of money was
expended on the work that the King of Spain exclaimed, "Its curtains
and bastions must be made of solid silver".
BASTIONS AND TOWERS.
Fort Marion has four nearly equal bastions (the triangular shaped corners)
known as St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Augustine and St. Charles, and four
connecting walls called curtains. On three of the bastions are sentry
towers, while on that to the northeast stands a high watch tower,
commanding a view of both land and water. The walls are about 12 feet
thick at the base, 9 feet at the top and about 25 feet high.
PLAZA RAMP AND TERREPLEIN.
The covering over the space between the inner and outer walls is called
the terreplein, and is about 40 feet wide. Upon it the guns were mounted.
Around the outer edge of the terreplein is a wall 3 feet thick and 6 feet
high known as the parapet. This was pierced for 64 guns. On the water
front the parapet was lower. The ascent to the terreplein is up an
incline plane known as the ramp, recently converted into steps. The upper
part of the ramp is supported by a peculiar shaped arch, remarkable for
the fact that it was constructed without a keystone. The plaza or inner
court is 100 feet square and the casemates, with one or two exceptions,
open into it. There are 26 casemates, 5 dungeons and one magazine. The only
entrance is through the sallyport in the middle of the south curtain.
The two casemates at the right of the entrance were guard rooms and contain
fireplaces. Leading off from the inner of these rooms is a large dungeon
which was used as the general prison.
The casemate at the left of the entrance was the Commander's quarters,
while the two rooms leading off from it were used by the other officers of
COURT ROOM— (OSCEOLA)
In the southwest corner is the court room, where the raised platform for
the officers of the court may still be seen. In this room in 1837 the famous
Indian Chief, Osceola, together with Coacoochee and Talmus Hadjo, were
imprisoned. At the rear of the room are the niches which the two latter dug
in the masonry to enable them to climb to the ventilator 18 feet above the
floor. Through the horizontal bars, 8 inches apart, in this ventilator they
worked their way and dropped to the moat about 25 feet below, from where
they made their escape. Osceola refused to accompany them, saying that a
white man had unjustly imprisoned him and a white man should set him free.
Near the door are three niches dug by him in the wall to enable him to climb
to the window ledge over the door, where he could sit and look out through
the iron bars on to the court below. One can imagine nothing more pathetic
than the sad face of this brave warrior as he sat there looking out through
the iron bars of this cruel prison, waiting and hoping for the day when his
unjust imprisonment would be ended and he might again enjoy the freedom of
his native wilds—the day which never came.
Osceola was captured when under the protection of a flag of truce on October
22, 1837. He was confined in Fort Marion until January 1, 1838, when he was
transferred to Fort Moultrie, in Charleston harbor, where he died, broken
hearted, on the 30th of that month.
M. M. Cohen in his "Notices of Florida", 1836, page 233, writes at sea near
Savannah, May 15th; The hours may as well be whiled away in recording some
account of the Seminole Chiefs — I will speak first of him who has most
attracted the public gaze. Powell, Powel, Osceola, Oceola, Assa-ola,
Osini-ola, Assiniya-hola—are the various names by which he is designated.
Osceola's mother, after the death of his father, married a pale face of the